Nigel Clough has warned players interested in securing moves to Bramall Lane that Sheffield United will not be held to ransom in the transfer market.
Clough issued his threat after learning the League One club could be forced to double its valuation of Gary Mackay-Steven or risk being dragged into a war of attrition for the Scotland international’s services.
United trail second placed Swindon Town by 12 points after beating Preston North End two days ago. But Clough told his leading targets their desire to bolster the firepower at his disposal should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness.
“Finance is the last thing we talk about,” he said. “The first thing is whether someone really wants to represent Sheffield United.
“If they don’t, or we sense any doubt, then that’s it. Full stop. We won’t bother messing about or going any further.
“If they do, and they tell us they want to come here, then we’ll sit down and discuss the money side of things. But only then.”
As The Star revealed last week, United, who also want to bring former loanee Chris O’Grady back to South Yorkshire before next month’s deadline, lodged a £100,000 offer with Dundee United after Mackay-Steven admitted he is unlikely to remain at Tannadice Park when his contract expires.
Celtic are known to be monitoring the 24-year-old’s situation but with Mackay-Steven set to become a free agent at the end of the present Scottish Premiership campaign, sources north of the border believe a bid of around £200,000 might tempt his employers to the negotiating table.
However, it remains unclear whether Jackie McNamara, Clough’s counterpart on Tayside, is keen to sanction any deal until the close season.
McNamara said: “It is not an official bid, more verbal, a case of them testing the water.
“I am not surprised because he has been very good the last few games. Hopefully, he can keep that going until the end of the season as a Dundee United player.”
“We know he can go for nothing but he has scored three goals for us in the last couple of matches so that’s valuable to the team,” McNamara added. “He wants a shot at England and I can understand that and I hope he gets what he wants eventually. Meantime, he can do a good for us because he has been a great servant to the club.”
Chesterfield midfielder Jimmy Ryan is another name on United’s wanted list but Clough, who refused to respond to claims he is interested in Walsall striker Tom Bradshaw before the meeting with Preston, said: “He’s on a very long list.”
“Tom is someone else’s player,” Clough added. “We watch all players in our league, in the league above and below, and a lot of names we look at and talk about. It would take me too long to talk about those names.”